In August the Memphis City and Shelby County Schools systems will merge There have been unsuccessful attempts by some school board members to delay the merger until 2014.
Now some members are taking that suggestion to the newly appointed special master Rick Masson.
Rev. Kenneth Whalum, Jr., was never for Memphis City Schools surrendering its charter and merging with Shelby County Schools. He voted against the merger in December 2010. With about four months to go before the merger has to be done, Whalum has hopes of convincing the special master that the merger must be postponed.
"It's going to get worse for Memphis before it gets better," he said of MCS surrendering its charter. "If the judge doesn't take advantage of his authority in law to correct what is a grave mistake. It's a great mistake.
"Any time people who are responsible for children surrender the children," he added. "You have mass and utter confusion and that's what we got. It's not going to get better because the people elected to represent the people sold them out."
In March federal Judge Samuel "Hardy" Mays, Jr., picked Masson as special master to be the eyes and ears of what has been a lengthy process in the school merger. His duties include helping establish a consolidated budget, assist the board in making decisions, and reporting back to the judge with suggestions if progress is not being made.
"What he said to me was, 'I think we can come up with some hard and fast deadlines and we got to get this done,'" Whalum said. "So I'm almost certain that the judge is going to have Masson to rush things to hurry to a conclusion."
While Masson, who is getting paid $250 an hour, has eluded the eye of the camera since his appointment, he has meet with members of the board. On Monday he met with Rev. Whalum.
Whalum took his time with the special master in hopes of convincing him and judge mays that the school merger process should actually be slowed down and not speed up.
"For two years he was supposed to appoint a master. He didn't do it," he said. "If he took two years to delay that process then certainly he can take one year to allow MCS and SCS to reduce administrative waste and then look at it later on to see if a merger makes sense. The judge has the absolute authority to do that."
Whalum said that he isn't sure how much of an impact his meeting with Masson will have on what happens next but he believes if the merger goes through as scheduled the children currently in the MCS will be the ones who will suffer.
"I told him that the suburbs are going to be fine," he said. "They are going to get their schools but the poor children of Memphis they are going to have their schools closed and teachers are losing jobs. The custodians are losing jobs and it's going to negatively impact the people who are living inside of Memphis."